Drive Thru: Is enough being done to combat noise pollution from loud vehicles?
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With spring officially here, car enthusiasts and motorcyclists will soon be taking their vehicles out of storage and hitting the road. Along with this increase in traffic comes an increase in noise, especially from those motorcyclists and motorists who insist on roaring down Toronto streets.
Toronto introduced a new noise by-law in 2019 targeting unnecessary engine revving and tire squealing and stating a motorcycle cannot exceed 92 decibels of sound from its exhaust. While the bylaw exists, who, when and where it can be enforced depends on the situation. And, along with disturbing others, these loud noises can also have an effect on your health.
We poised our question to Dr. Rex Banks, a doctor of audiology and director of hearing health at Canadian Hearing Services, City of Toronto Coun. Josh Matlow (Ward 12 Toronto-St. Paul’s) and Rob Beintema, a member of Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. Here are their responses in roughly the time same time it takes to order and pick up from a drive-thru window.
“Noise pollution is a pervasive problem that can cause stress, annoyance, sleep disturbance, hearing loss and more. Revving a motorcycle engine may sound like a kitten purring to one person but is intolerable to another. But for both, it’s an invisible danger. Noise is a leading causes of hearing loss, which occurs gradually over time and often goes unnoticed. We probably can’t do enough to protect our hearing from loud vehicles and other noises around us. Wearing hearing protection, reducing noise entering our soundscape and giving our ears a rest after loud exposure are good steps to protect one’s hearing.” – Dr. Rex Banks
“Noise pollution is an issue I hear about from residents. Excessively loud motorcycles tearing down streets has a real impact on residents’ quality of life. Toronto City Council recognized that motorcycles and other sources of excessive noise pose a significant problem by implementing a new noise by-law in 2019. Under the by-law, unnecessary noise is not permitted. Problem solved, right? Unfortunately, no. When a vehicle is parked, the city has clear jurisdiction. If the vehicle’s moving, the province has more say and only the police can enforce. Ultimately, the Toronto Police would serve us well by creating more effective strategies to enforce existing rules.” – Coun. Josh Matlow
“I’m guilty myself of unwinding the engine and unnecessarily blipping the throttle of a bike with particularly melodious exhaust notes. And, in an age when science clashes with sentiment, noise arguments probably won’t convert the ‘loud pipes save lives’ crowd. Even though it’s training, technique and proper equipment that saves lives. I doubt we can tame the youthful exuberance of the late night, late-shifting, high speed highway runs that reverberate across the city. Or the baby-waking brouhaha of a blasting straight-piped hog. All the public can do is continue to press politicians and police for enforcement. And perhaps anticipate a more tranquil electrically powered future.” – Rob Beintema
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